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Nepal: UN rights office condemns killing of journalist amid growing attacks on media

Nepal: UN rights office condemns killing of journalist amid growing attacks on media

The United Nations human rights office in Nepal deplored the brutal murder of a female journalist who was hacked to death in her own home yesterday and called on local authorities to conduct an immediate investigation.

Uma Singh, a reporter at Radio Today FM and member of the Women’s Human Rights Defenders in the southern district of Dhanusha, was attacked by unidentified men armed with “khukhuris” – curved knives traditional to Nepal.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) urged Nepal Police to identify those responsible for Ms. Singh’s death and bring them to justice.

OHCHR-Nepal also pressed Government authorities to investigate and prosecute death threats and an apparent attempt to attack another woman journalist in the same region, Janakpur, last night.

“Doing so will send a strong message that there will be no impunity for attacks against the media, nor for any serious crimes,” OHCHR-Nepal said in a press release, while calling on all sectors of Nepali society to respect freedom of opinion and the rights of journalists.

Yesterday’s assaults are the latest in a troubling trend of attacks targeting media professionals in the South Asian country over recent months.

“Occurring amid a growing number of reports of incidents targeting journalists throughout Nepal, this tragedy should galvanise those responsible for protection of media freedom to take the necessary action to ensure the security of journalists,” said OHCHR-Nepal Representative Richard Bennett.

On 20 October, several people reportedly raided the office of the local Terai Times newspaper in Janakpur, where they assaulted staff and damaged and stole equipment after the publication of a news article suggesting that the Young Communist League (YCL) was providing protection for prostitution.

In another incident, a journalist from a daily newspaper in Nepalgunj informed OHCHR that he had been verbally abused and threatened on 21 October by a local government official of Banke district, following publication of an article that alleged financial irregularities linked to a local construction project.